Tchimpounga's Latest Arrival
JGI Rescues Alex, A Young Orphaned Chimpanzee
On July 28, 2011, the Jane Goodall Institute’s (JGI) Debby Cox was shopping in Pointe Noire, Republic of the Congo, when she received a call about a baby chimpanzee who had been confiscated by authorities and brought to the local Ministry of Water and Forest. Debby picked up the chimpanzee and brought him immediately to JGI’s Tchimpounga Chimpanzee Rehabilitation Center.
When he arrived, the baby was dressed in children’s clothing and was dirty, scared and severely anemic. After Tchimpounga caregivers removed his clothing, the terrified chimpanzee was cleaned off, given some medication for his anemia and worms, and wrapped in a blanket for warmth and security.
Caring for Alex at JGI’s Sanctuary
Since his arrival, Alex, who is roughly 12 months old, has been with his surrogate “mom” on the Tchimpounga staff receiving 24-hour care. At this age, chimpanzees in the wild are still completely dependent on and always within touching distance of their mothers. Alex most likely lost his real mother to the illegal commercial bushmeat trade. In order to ensure his physical and emotional recovery from this traumatic event, it is critical that his human foster moms give him the same type of care that his mother would have provided. Eventually Alex will be integrated into a larger group of chimpanzees at the sanctuary. His emotional development and ability to socialize and interact appropriately will determine his success during the process. Building his sense of security and confidence is a top priority for his caregivers.
Alex was pale and lethargic when he first arrived at Tchimpounga. Today, he is active, responsive, and is quickly gaining back his strength and color. Each day, he receives six bottles of fortified formula, a large variety of fruits and vegetables, and plenty of attention and tender loving care. Unlike most new infants at the sanctuary who tend to only like one or two foods, Alex loves everything, including carrots, eggplants, tomatoes, red peppers, cucumbers, green beans and potatoes. He is very outgoing and greets everyone he encounters. While he is still very dependent and naturally tentative, he is beginning to play and laugh with his caregivers.
The staff members at Tchimpounga strive to provide a safe, stable and loving environment for all the chimpanzees at the sanctuary and are pleased to see how much Alex has improved in a short period of time.
Contributed by Jenny Desmond